JERUSALEM (AP/The Blaze) – Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a new wave of rockets that landed deep inside Israel Thursday, defying Israeli retaliatory attacks and threats.
As the violence threatened to escalate the day after a deadly Jerusalem bombing, Israel got a boost from the visiting U.S. defense chief, who said no country could tolerate the “repugnant” attacks on its soil.
Police said Gaza militants fired 10 rockets and mortars toward Israel Thursday, including two rockets that exploded north of the city of Ashdod, a main Mediterranean port city about 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Gaza — a first since Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers reached an unofficial truce following a three-week war that ended in January 2009. Israeli airstrikes hit a number of Gaza targets in retaliation throughout the day.
Neither side reported injuries or said they wanted a new fight. But the new hostilities could easily spin out of control, especially if civilian deaths mount.
Wednesday’s bombing killed a British tourist, and five members of a Jewish family were slain while they slept in a West Bank settlement earlier this month. Israel has blamed Palestinians for both attacks.
Also this week, Israeli shelling killed three children and their uncle in Gaza. The army said it was targeting militants.
The fighting in Gaza has been the fiercest since Israel went to war there to try to curb years of rocket attacks. The fierce three-week offensive killed some 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians. Thirteen Israelis also died. The volatile border has remained largely calm since.